Agile Toolbox

Story or PBI Estimating Tool Box

Sizing doesn’t need to be difficult

Struggling with picking estimates on your Agile team? If you are, we have a few options that may help you out. We even did a podcast on this exact topic that we have included on the page below. Now does it really matter what you end up picking? No. When setting up a team or going through working agreements, then this would be the perfect time to talk about this exact topics with the Agile team. In order for any estimation technique to be successful, you should determine what your team wants the scale to look like for each correlated number. Pro tip, remember that you may have turn over on the team. Its always a good idea to get alignmnet so that if you had a new team member join, then the team will able to explain to the new person how they do things on the team.

Check out our podcast episode about estimating

Option 1: Fibonacci

One of the tried approaches and might be the most popular way of estimating the size of a item is through Fibonacci. This is where you use a mix of complexity, effort and doubt to help figure out a size. You may also look at a grouping of stories to help determine the size for the correlated number. Here are the numbers that would go on your backlog items: 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 & 21. If you want, you can simply add to the sequence if you so desire. From our own experiences, we recommend that you stop at 21. Some of this has to do with what you are defining in your workinng agreements. If the team says no story over 21, then it doesn’t really make sense to use higher estimates as you will want to break down larger stories.

If you want a key or card game, we recommend the all in one card set on amazon. Check out this link: Top Quality Agile Poker Estimation Planning Cards

Option 2: T-Shirt Sizing

One of our favorite options to use for teams is to get away from the human nature to correlate time to points. Using a sizing method from smaller to bigger really helps teams visualize if there story is bigger than another one. Try to not get to crazy for this one. A basic sizing of: Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large should be enough. If you want to try to make life easier for yourself when trying to determine a velocity or trajectory, then assign a point value to the shirt size. We have used the key of Small = 1, Medium =2, Large =4 & X-Large = 8. This will be more helpful then coming up with a crazy key to help the team determine what they can plan with during sprint planning.

Option 3: No Estimates

If you feel like your team is really cruising along, then using a new technique that is all the rage right now is no estimate. The team will need to look at past sprints to see how they have been doing. Ideally the team would be good at breaking stories down into small enough chunks and getting a certain number of backlog items done. For example, the team has been roughly competing 7 stories per sprint, then you would plan with 7 backlog items for the next sprint. This could also help determine when you could complete something in the future. A example for this one is that your team can do 7 backlog items per sprint and you have 28 backlog items to do. What you and the team could assume from that it will require 4 sprints to complete the work. Now thats just a estimate as lots of different things can happen.

Option 4: Make Your Own

Work with your team to create your own sizing system that you can use. You can use items like fruit or Pokemon.

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